During the D.I.C.E. Summit in Vegas last night, EA Chief Creative Officer Richard Hilleman spoke about the accessibility of today’s games. The quote itself has generated a lot of frustration from core gamers, and I’ll present it exactly as Hilleman said it, but I don’t necessarily think that feistiness is truly warranted.
Let’s start with what Hilleman offers according to Gamespot.
“Our games are actually still too hard to learn…The average player probably spends two hours to learn how to play the most basic game.
And asking for two hours of somebody’s time–most of our customers, between their normal family lives…to find two contiguous hours to concentrate on learning how to play a video game is a big ask.”
That initial bit about its games being “too hard to learn” is the stuff most are hung up on. Sure, the people reading Gamespot, Kotaku and even TechnoBuffalo would never think today’s games require too much of players. You folks are knowledgeable, regular players with an actual understanding of the language ingrained in gaming. You understand this stuff easily.
For the mainstream audience? Hilleman is probably right. I’ve been gaming my whole life, but I find it really hard to dive into a title with a complicated leveling and progression system now that I have a family.
I can still do it, thankfully, because my actual work day means I have time for complicated games. But, for games I want to play during my off time away from work? I don’t have time for them.
I don’t know if “too hard” is the right phrase here. Too hard implies that EA needs to do more hand-holding. I think there should be more games with a lower bar for entry, sure, but that can’t come at the expense of sprawling RPGs and brutally tough efforts.
Are games too hard to learn today? Not for players like you and me, no. For the average person? I don’t know if someone with a full-time job and a family can carve out enough time to learn how to play, say, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Should Dragon Age go away? Never. However, Hilleman and EA should certainly account for the slice of the market that doesn’t have time to master it.
What do you think? Is gaming just fine the way it is?